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Compliment circle

A fun activity that connects tamariki through the power of a compliment. An awesome way to start or end your day

Firstly, the science...

Compliments are characterised as both kindness, and in terms of the 5 ways to wellbeing, giving (i.e. giving a compliment. We know that these innate social skills that support us to feel good - when we give a compliment it has as much positive impact as when we receive one. Cool, hey? So let’s do more of that!

Why this activity?

We thought this might make for a good start to the day, or a nice end to the day (or both) in order that everyone receives and gives compliments marking the start to a great day, or a great end to a not-so-great day. Giving and receiving compliments support us to feel good, function well and think outside of ourselves for what’s good and right.


It’s also quick and simple! Once your tamariki understand compliments and how to give authentic compliments, they’ll get better at it and this creates the habit.

You'll need

Your amazing tamariki 

What to do

If your tamariki are new to compliments…

First up, it’s worth doing a few 101’s around what a compliment is, and then what makes a good compliment. Here’s our thinking:


  • Kōrero with tamariki about: 

    • What is a compliment?

    • What makes a good compliment?

    • How do we feel when we get a great compliment?

    • How do we feel when we give a great compliment? - Iterate the science of wellbeing for tamariki - it’s good to get compliments, but feels great to give them too! Everyone wins!

  • Some kōrero iti about compliments:

    • Ask tamariki to think about “I ams” -  that is, things we can’t change - our eye colour, our ethnicity… so while it’s cool to receive compliments on these things, they’re not as powerful as the “I cans…”

    • Kōrero with tamariki about the “I cans” which are the skills and talents we can work on, can improve, can change - these are the meaningful compliments that make the difference in us continuing and improving what we know, do and try.

    • The “I cans” are the deeper-level compliments we want to focus on.

    • And compliments always come from a place of kindness (rather than trying to impress someone, be noticed…) So there’s a couple of things we can ask ourselves when we compliment someone - is this compliment supporting this person to ‘grow’ and am I being genuine? If the answer is ‘āe’ and ‘āe’ then kei te pai!


And then you might want to practise! Pair tamariki up, and ask them to share a compliment with each other and kōrero about how it has felt to give and receive the compliment. Make adjustments as needed, but hopefully, this is a really positive experience.


Examples of “I can" compliments

  • You’re working really hard on that picture, I really like the way you…

  • You were brave today when you helped out with … Good for you.

  • I really like hearing you sing, seeing you dance or do gymnastics

  • You were dynamite running today at sports. That was impressive!


Then the easy part - playing Compliment Circle

Use your circle time at the beginning or end of the day for a quick round of compliment circle. 

Sit in a circle - ask tamariki to turn to the person next to them (so they’re working in a pair) and exchange compliments. Then turn to the person on the other side, and do the same.


Ask tamariki to be mindful for a moment to feel anything that comes with their compliments (both giving and receiving) before moving on to the day or saying haere rā.


When tamariki feel more comfortable with compliments, you might play this like a game of clap where tamariki move around the circle, receiving a compliment from the person on their right, and passing on a compliment to the person on their left. In this way, everyone hears the compliment. 


You might use Compliment Circle as part of your mornings together or as an ending to your day. Check in as you need to to make sure the compliments are remaining authentic. Revisit the lowdown on compliments, if needed - we can all go a little stale sometimes

Kaiako card

To make things easy, print the kaiako card and do your planning later.

Whānau engagement

Ask tamariki as some take-home learning to give compliments to their whānau members. They might like to use Compliment Circle as part of their kai time with whānau.

Or use the following explainer across your whānau sharing platforms or social media. 


We're learning about compliments and their effect on our wellbeing. Tamariki are learning how to give and receive meaningful compliments. Encourage your tamariki to practice this at home too. Compliments can foster kindness, boost confidence, and create a positive, supportive environment for our tamariki. Share meaningful compliments at home regularly and discuss the emotions felt when giving or receiving a compliment 

And to add to this...

Continue to connect your tamariki with activities such as:

Curriculum links

Health and PE Curriculum

Personal health and physical development: A4 - Personal identity

Relationships with other people: C1 - Relationships 

Relationships with other people: C2 - Identity, sensitivity, and respect

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